Put down those honey-do lists!

Published 10:02 am Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Once upon a time there was professional football that treated diehard fans such as yours truly to nearly 12 months of excitement.

Back in the day, we men had endless opportunities to excuse ourselves from fulfilling the chores laid out on our “honey-do” lists. We had better things to do, such as watch football on the tube.

Football has actually been around since the late 1800’s. Then, it was common for college teams to meet semi-pro teams. The National Football League was formed in 1902, although it’s not the same organization as today. Four years later (1906), the NCAA was born, thusly barring all collegiate players from battling on the gridiron against professionals.

The National Football League we have today was developed in 1922, a new organization that stemmed from the American Professional Football Association.

In 1926 came the birth of the American Football League (AFL), but it lasted only one year as it couldn’t compete with the NFL. The American Football League attempted two other times to gain a foothold, once in 1936 and again in 1941. Both were unsuccessful as its initial attempt.

It wasn’t until 1960 when the AFL finally gained traction. It gained in popularity this time around, and finally transitioned into the NFL ten years later with the development of the National Football Conference (NFC) and American Football Conference (AFC).

Along the way there have been upstart pro leagues attempting to find a foothold. I well remember the old USFL (United States Football League). Its schedule of games were played in the spring months, giving us diehard fans something to watch other than pro baseball.

The USFL’s demise actually came through a man now seeking the highest office in the USA. Donald Trump, owner of the USFL’s New Jersey Generals at that time, thought it was a good idea to move the league’s games to the fall/winter, thus challenging the NFL’s schedule. That idea was a bust and the USFL died after only three years of existence.

Side note: Do you really want to vote for “The Donald” as president? If he can’t match wits with the NFL, how do you think he’ll do vs. leaders of the world’s other powerful nations?

Anyway…back to football.

The World Football League (mid-1970’s) and the United Football League (2009) also attempted to challenge the NFL’s superiority. Both failed.

Ditto for the XFL. Founded in 2000 by World Wrestling Federation owner Vince McMahon, the eight-team league folded after its lone season in 2001.

Other than the Canadian Football League (which has never piqued my interest), the only other pro football organization to gain fan popularity is the Arena Football League. It was born in 1987 and even with numerous reorganizations, it’s still going strong. It’s a fun game to watch…played on a 50-yard field, which leads to high-scoring contests.

Now there’s a new kid on the block. In December of 2014, Major League Football, Inc. was born with a promise of offering fans games in the spring beginning this year.

It appears MLFB is gaining traction.

According to its website, MLFB is “a publicly traded entity, is a new professional spring football league. MLFB is dedicated to creating an innovative, accessible, and fan-friendly game that fans have loved for decades. Scheduled to kick off in 2016, MLFB’s strategically placed spring season will fill a critical need for outdoor football at that time of the year. The league’s teams will focus on emerging and underserved markets, helping to grow the overall popularity of the sport.”

Last week, I was reading a story on espn.com about MLFB. The league owners have completed the process of drafting players and it looks like full steam ahead for the eight-team league that will play in cities currently without an NFL or MLB franchise.

Hey, guys, don’t grab those honey-do lists just yet. Seems like there’s a weekend alternative coming soon!


Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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